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Cavity mold example

This example shows you how to generate and output the basic
toolpaths used to machine a forging die mold.
1 Start PowerMILL (see page 5).
2 Load the model (see page 14).
3 Complete the preparatory steps (see page 18) to get the model
ready for machining.
4 Save the project (see page 21).
5 View the model and block (see page 23).
6 Create an NC program (see page 27).
7 Create, simulate, and output each toolpath:
 Roughing (see page 31) - to rapidly remove the majority of
the excess material using the Offset all style in the Model Area
Clearance strategy.
 Rest roughing (see page 42) - to clear additional material
using a smaller tool (the Model Area Clearance strategy is used
again; this time only material not removed by the previous
toolpath is machined).
 Finishing toolpath (see page 49) - to generate steep and
shallow moves within a specified boundary.
 Corner Finishing (see page 65) - to clean up material that
previous toolpaths were unable to finish, particularly in
corners between non-tangential surfaces.

14 • Cavity mold example PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started


Loading the model
The model you will work on is a cavity mold in the Examples folder.

To load the model:

1 Select File > Examples.

The Open Examples dialog is displayed, automatically opening the


drive and folder where the tutorial files are installed:

2 In the Files of type field, select Delcam Geometry (*.dgk) from the
drop-down list.
3 Select the cavity mold called die.dgk, and then click Open.
PowerMILL loads the file.

PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started Cavity mold example • 15


4 Click the Resize to Fit button on the View toolbar to fit the file
within the display.

5 To change the display to an isometric view, select the ISO 1


button on the same toolbar. The model looks like this:

More information on view manipulation is provided later


(see page 23).

16 • Cavity mold example PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started


6 The die is currently shown with only the wireframe selected. To
add shading, click the Plain Shade button on the View toolbar.

7 Remove the wireframe by clicking the Wireframe button near


the bottom of the View toolbar.

Click the Wireframe or Plain Shade buttons to toggle


between Wireframe, Plain Shade, Wireframe and Shaded, and
No Model views.
For this exercise, keep the model shaded.

PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started Cavity mold example • 17


Preparatory steps
The following steps are necessary before machining the mold:
1 Define the block around the die (see page 18).
2 Specify rapid move heights (see page 20).
3 Specify tool start point (see page 21).

Defining the block around the die


The block defines the stock size. The part is then machined from the
block. In this case, the block is a rectangular cuboid.

To define the block:

1 Click the Block button on the Main toolbar.


2 In the Block dialog, check that:
a Defined By is set to Box.
b Coordinate System is set to Active Workplane.
c In the Estimate Limits area, Expansion is set to 0 and Type to
Model.

18 • Cavity mold example PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started


d Draw is selected.

3 Click Calculate to define a cuboid enclosing the die. Click Accept


to close the dialog.

To toggle the display of the block on and off, click the Block
button on the View toolbar.

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Specifying rapid move heights
Heights at which the tool can move safely without hitting the part or
clamps are called rapid move heights.
The Safe Z and Start Z tool heights are defined using the Rapid Move
Heights button. The use of absolute and incremental Z heights is
controlled by the type of Rapid Movement selected.

To specify rapid move heights:

1 Click the Rapid Move Heights button on the Main toolbar.


2 In the Rapid Move Heights dialog:
a Check that Safe Area is set to Plane.
b Click Calculate.

3 Click Accept to save your settings and close the dialog.

20 • Cavity mold example PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started


Specifying tool start point
1 Click the Start and End Point button. This displays the Start
and End Point dialog.

2 On the Start Point tab, select the Block Centre Safe option in the
Use field to reset the tool X and Y values to the centre of the
block model, with the Z coordinate at Safe Z.
3 Click Accept to save your settings and close the dialog.

Saving the project for the first time


PowerMILL saves all the entities, together with a copy of the model,
as a single project.

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To save a project:

1 Click the Save button on the Main toolbar. Since you have not
previously saved the project, the Save Project As dialog is
displayed.

2 Move to the directory that you created for your projects (see
page 2), and enter a name for your project in the File name field,
for example forging_die_mold.
3 Click Save.
The PowerMILL window header now reflects the name of the
project.

An associated file structure is created:

Do not manually edit these files - you will corrupt your data.

From now on, click Save on the Main toolbar to update the
saved version of the project.

22 • Cavity mold example PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started


Viewing the model and block
To look at a specific area of the model and block you can either
select one of the predefined views (see page 23) on the View
toolbar, or use a mouse.
It is recommended that you use a three-button mouse. By holding
down the middle button and moving the mouse pointer in the
graphics area, you can control the view of the model. When you are
moving the mouse (with the middle button pressed) the trackball is
visible on the screen:

Start with the cursor in the middle of the window and press the
middle mouse button, then drag the cursor up the screen. The
image moves as you move the mouse.

Predefined views
The View toolbar is loaded by default when PowerMILL is started
and is often the best starting point for dynamically manipulating
model views. There are several fixed viewing directions available
from the View toolbar.

If the View toolbar is not currently displayed, select View >


Toolbar > Viewing from the menu.
View Along options allow you to orientate the view so
that it is along the X, Y, or Z axis. Hover on any of these
buttons to display a 2D view toolbar which has additional
view options along the primary axes.
Use the ISO View option to change the view angle to any
of the isometric views. Hover on the button to display
other isometric view options.
Isometric views are often the best starting point for
dynamically manipulating the view using the mouse.

PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started Cavity mold example • 23


Previous View option takes you back to the previous view
of the entities.
Refresh option redraws all the currently displayed
components, repairing any damage to the current view.
This can be useful if the view loses definition as items
are created, modified, or deleted on the screen.
Resize to Fit (see page 25) adjusts the view to fit the
screen. Depending on the current view, PowerMILL
zooms in or out to adjust the view. Hover on the button
to view the Zoom In (see page 25) and Zoom Out (see
page 25) buttons.
Use the Zoom to Box (see page 25) option to zoom in on
a specific area of the model. Click and drag the mouse to
create a box over a part of the model to zoom in.
PowerMILL adjusts the view to zoom in on the selected
boxed area.
Use the Block option to show or hide the block.

Use the Plain Shade option to show or hide the shaded


representation of the model.
Hover on the Plain Shade button to show the other
shading options available on the Shading toolbar.
Use the Wireframe option to show or hide the wireframe
representation of the model.
Use the Box Selection mode to select entities with the
mouse. Click and drag the mouse to create a box over
the entities you want to select.
To deselect entities from a group of selected entities,
hold down the Ctrl key and click the entities you want to
deselect.
Use the Drag Selection button to select multiple entities
with the mouse. Hover on the Box Selection button
to display the Drag Selection button. Click the Drag
Selection button and click and select the relevant
entities.
Use the Last Selection option to revert to the previous
selection made with the Box Selection or Drag Selection
options.

24 • Cavity mold example PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started


Zoom
You can resize the model using the viewing options available on the
View toolbar:

The Zoom options and control the zoom factor of


the image on the screen.
This is a pull-out toolbar. Hovering on the currently selected Zoom
button (in this case, Resize to Fit ) displays the Zoom toolbar.

Resize to Fit - zooms the image so that it just fits in the window.
It converts this:

into this:

This zooms in or out as required. So, it also zooms a microscopic


image on the screen to one that just fits inside the window.

If you can't see your graphics, click the Resize to Fit button
on the View toolbar to fit the graphics to the middle of the
screen.

Zoom In - doubles the size of the image. Click this button


repeatedly until the required zoom factor is reached. The image is
zoomed about the centre of the graphics window.

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Zoom Out - halves the size of the image. Click this button
repeatedly until the required zoom factor is reached. The image is
zoomed about the centre of the graphics window.

Zoom to Box - zooms in to a specific area of the image. Click and


then use the left mouse button to drag a zoom box on the image.
The view is then zoomed to fit the boxed area.
It will convert this:

- Zoom box
into this:

You can also resize an image by holding down the Ctrl key
and the middle (or right) mouse button, and then dragging
the mouse up to Zoom In or down to Zoom Out.

Panning
You can Pan the image by holding down the Shift key and the
middle (or right) mouse button, and then dragging the mouse in the
direction in which you want to move the image.

26 • Cavity mold example PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started


NC program
An NC program contains the commands and output settings that
specify how the machine controller will machine the part.
It is advisable to create an NC program, and set the preferences for
it before generating any toolpaths. However, it's just as easy to add
generated toolpaths to the NC programs later (see page 76).

Setting NC program preferences


1 In explorer, right-click NC Programs and select Preferences. This
brings up the NC Preferences dialog.

2 On the Output tab of the NC Preferences dialog, select Use Project


- On to write the NC program file into the PowerMILL project
folder.

Select Use Project - Off to write the NC program file to a


different folder. You need to specify it in the Output Folder
field.
3 Enter the output file name to be used by default in the Output
File field.

PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started Cavity mold example • 27


The variable %[ncprogram] gives the output file the same
name as the NC program. You can add your file name to
this variable.

4 Click next to the Machine Option File field to open the Select
Machine Option Filename dialog.
5 Browse to the folder where the option files are stored, and select
the required machine option file (in this case heid.opt) and click
Open.

This closes the Select Machine Option Filename dialog and returns
you to the NC Preferences dialog.
6 Click Accept to save your changes and close the dialog.

28 • Cavity mold example PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started


Creating an NC program
1 From the NC Programs context menu, select Create NC Program.
This displays the NC Program dialog.
2 In the Name field, enter the name you want to call the NC
program. For example Cavity_Mold.

3 In the NC Program dialog, click the Options button. The


Options dialog is displayed.
4 On the Output tab:
a Deselect the Write File for Each Toolpath option. This causes
Output File to be displayed instead of Root Name at the top of
the NC Program dialog.
b Select Option File as heid.
c Enter Output File Extension as opt.

PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started Cavity mold example • 29


d Click Accept to update and close the Options dialog.

If you want separate output files for each toolpath, select


Write File for Each Toolpath option. This changes the Output
File field to Root Name in the NC Program dialog and
displays the default path and file name in the Output File
field at the bottom of the dialog.
The default path in the Output File field is based on the settings
in the NC Preferences dialog. If you want to change this path,
click the open folder button, browse to the appropriate folder,
and enter the new file name (the file extension is determined by
the settings you made in step 4b). If you used the %[ncprogram]
variable in the NC Preferences dialog, hover on the displayed
path to see how the file name will be resolved by PowerMILL.
5 Click Accept in the NC Program dialog to accept your selections
and close the dialog.

30 • Cavity mold example PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started


6 To see the entity that you have just created, click to expand
the NC Programs node. The entity is automatically active
(signified by bold text preceded by the > symbol).

Any toolpaths you create are automatically added to the


currently active NC program.

Creating a roughing toolpath


A Model Area Clearance strategy with the roughing Style set as Offset
all is used to rapidly remove the majority of excess material on the
model. This clears the area with contours that are generated by
repeatedly offsetting the initial contour until no further offsetting is
possible, and then steps down to the next level and repeats the
offsetting until the bottom of the part is reached.

To create a roughing toolpath:

1 On the Main toolbar, from the Create Toolpath list, select Model
Area Clearance.

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This displays the Model Area Clearance dialog.

Use the various tabs to enter parameters required for the


toolpath.
2 Give the toolpath an appropriate Name, for example Roughing.
3 Define the roughing tool geometry (see page 33).
4 Define the tolerances (see page 37).
5 Complete the Area Clearance dialog, and generate the roughing
toolpath (see page 37).
6 Display the roughing toolpath (see page 38).
7 Simulate the roughing toolpath (see page 40).

32 • Cavity mold example PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started


Defining the roughing tool geometry
The next stage involves selecting a tool and defining its geometry.
This example uses a 16 mm (5/8 inch) tip-radiused tool.
1 In the Model Area Clearance strategy dialog, click to select
the Tool tab.

2 Click the arrow next to the Create Tool button in the


Tool area, and select to Create a Tip Radiused Tool.
3 In the Tip Radiused Tool dialog, enter:
a Name - D16T1
b Length - 30 mm
c Tip Radius - 1 mm
d Diameter - 16 mm
e Tool Number - 1

4 Select the Shank tab, click to add a shank component. Enter:


a Upper Diameter - 16 mm
b Length - 70 mm

PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started Cavity mold example • 33


The Lower Diameter automatically defaults to the Upper
Diameter. This can be accepted for the current tool.

5 Click Close.
You can view and edit the created tool:
In explorer, expand to see the tool that you have
created. Expand the tool node to see the specific tool's details.

34 • Cavity mold example PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started


The tool is automatically aligned with the Z axis:

 in the Tool tab on the Model Area Clearance dialog:

 On the Tool toolbar:

Tool length overview


The diagram below shows a cutting tool made up of a tip (yellow)
and shank (green) mounted in a shrink-fit holder (red). The tool is
mounted in the spindle of a machine (grey).

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The colours shown here correspond to those used in the
PowerMILL Tool dialogs.

- Spindle
- Holder length
- Gauge face
- Overhang
- Cutting length
- Gauge length
The Cutting Length represents the part of the cutter that removes
material. This is set up in PowerMILL as the Tip Length.
The Overhang is the amount by which the cutter protrudes from the
tool holder. This, typically, includes part of the Shank Length. The
Overhang is fixed when the cutter is mounted in the holder.

To obtain maximum tool life, the Overhang is typically kept to


the minimum necessary to prevent the holder from hitting the
part or unmachined stock.
The Holder Length is the total length of all parts of the holder
assembly that protrude from the spindle when the holder is
mounted in the machine.
The Gauge Length is the total length of the cutter and holder
assembly when it is mounted in the machine. It is measured from
the tip of the tool to the Gauge Face, which is the ground face of the
spindle.

36 • Cavity mold example PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started


Defining the tolerances
On the Model area clearance page of the strategy:
1 In Tolerances, enter 0.2 mm.

2 Click the Thickness button to enable the Axial thickness


and Radial thickness fields.

3 Enter a Radial thickness of 0.5 mm.

4 Enter an Axial thickness of 0.1 mm.


5 In Stepover, enter 7.0 mm.
6 In Stepdown, enter 4.0 mm.
7 In the stepdown list, select Automatic.

The Z Heights are created automatically when the toolpath


is calculated, and any existing Z Heights values are deleted.

The accuracy of the machined part produced by PowerMILL is


limited by the accuracy of the model read into the program.
The original model must have been produced to an adequate
tolerance.

Generating the roughing toolpath


On the Model Area Clearance strategy dialog:
1 Select and expand the Leads and links page:
a Select the Lead in sub page.
b From the 1st choice list, select Ramp.
2 Select the High speed page:
a Select the Profile smoothing option. Leave the default Corner
Radius as 0.05.
b Select Smoothing Allowance, and adjust it to a small value,
such as 5%.
3 Click Calculate to generate the toolpath.
Progress is shown on the Status bar at the bottom of the screen.
The generation may take a minute or so, depending on the
processing power of your PC.
4 When the toolpath is generated, click Cancel to close the strategy
dialog.

PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started Cavity mold example • 37


Displaying the roughing toolpath
To improve visualisation of the toolpath, you can:

 Click the Plain Shade and Wireframe buttons to undraw


the model.

To zoom in to the model, hold down the Ctrl key and the
middle (or right) mouse button, and drag the mouse
upwards.

 Click the Block button on the View toolbar to undraw the


block.
 Click to expand the Toolpaths node in the explorer. The new
toolpath is shown in bold and preceded by the > symbol to
indicate it's active.

 Click the light bulb next to the toolpath to toggle toolpath


display on or off .

38 • Cavity mold example PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started


 Click next to the toolpath to expand and view the parameters
and their specific details used to create the toolpath.

The Safety Status icon at the top of the toolpath tree shows
the toolpath is gouge-checked, but not checked for holder
details. To see more information, expand the Toolpath Safety
Parameters node in the toolpath tree.

Saving project changes


When you have unsaved changes (in this case, the toolpath
information) in your project, an asterisk (*) is displayed in the title
bar.

Click Save on the Main toolbar to save the project changes and
overwrite the previous file. The toolpath information is added to
your project, and the asterisk disappears from the project header:

PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started Cavity mold example • 39


Simulating the roughing toolpath
To view a simulation of the toolpath:

1 Click the ISO1 button on the View toolbar to reset the view.

2 On the ViewMill toolbar, click the Toggle ViewMill Window


button. It turns green , and activates the simulation window,
which initially shows a light grey block on the current
background.

If the Simulation toolbar is not already displayed, select


View > Toolbar > Simulation.
3 Select the current toolpath in the first of the two drop-down lists.
The tool is selected automatically, and the Play buttons are
highlighted:

4 The buttons on the ViewMill toolbar control


the display of the simulation. Select the Rainbow Shaded Image
option to visualise the material removed by different
toolpaths, for example roughing and rest roughing.

40 • Cavity mold example PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started


5 To start the simulation, click the Play button. Allow the
simulation to run through to the end.

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Creating the rest roughing toolpath
The rest roughing toolpath uses a smaller tool to eliminate the large
terraces and to rough areas of the model that the large roughing
tool couldn't reach, such as pockets and corners.

To create a rest roughing toolpath:

1 Display the Settings for the previous toolpath.

2 Click the Create a new toolpath based on this one button.


3 A copy of the toolpath is created with a suffix of _1. Enter
RestRoughing in the Toolpath name field to rename it.
4 Select the Rest Machining option. This switches the strategy to
Model rest area clearance strategy and enables the Rest page.

5 Define the rest roughing tool geometry (see page 43).


6 Change the Stepover and Stepdown values (see page 45).
7 Complete the Model rest area clearance strategy dialog, and
generate the rest roughing toolpath (see page 45).
8 Display the rest roughing toolpath (see page 46).
9 Simulate the rest roughing toolpath (see page 46).

42 • Cavity mold example PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started


Defining the rest roughing tool geometry
You can base the rest roughing tool on the existing roughing tool,
although it needs a smaller diameter and larger tip radius.
This example uses a 10 mm (3/8 inch) tip radiused tool.
1 On the Tool page of the Model Rest Area Clearance dialog of the
RestRoughing toolpath click the Edit button.

2 In the Tip Radiused Tool dialog, click to create a new tool


entity based on the existing roughing tool. It is given the default
name of D16T1_1.
3 Rename the tool to D10T2.
4 In the other fields, enter:
a Length - 10 mm
b Tip Radius - 3 mm
c Diameter - 10 mm
d Tool Number - 2

PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started Cavity mold example • 43


5 Select the Shank tab and change the values to:
a Upper Diameter - 10
b Length - 40
The Lower Diameter automatically defaults to the Upper
Diameter. This can be accepted for the current tool.

6 Click Close.

To see the rest roughing tool more clearly, click the light
bulb icons for the roughing toolpath and tool, (toggle them
to ). This undraws (but doesn't delete) the entities on the
screen.

44 • Cavity mold example PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started


Changing the Stepover and Stepdown values
On the Model rest area clearance page:
1 Enter a Stepover of 3.0 mm.
2 Enter a Stepdown of 1.5 mm.

Generating the rest roughing toolpath


On the Model Rest Area Clearance dialog:
1 Select the Rest page, and:
a From Rest Machining type list, select Toolpath.
b From the Toolpath list, select Roughing (the name of your
roughing toolpath).
c In the Detect Material Thicker Than field, enter 0.2 mm. The
calculation ignores rest material thinner than 0.2 mm. This
helps to avoid thin regions being rest roughed where the
benefit of a second cut is negligible.
d In the Expand Area By field, enter 0.2 mm. The rest areas are
expanded by 0.2 mm measured along the surface. This can be
used in conjunction with Detect Material Thicker Than to reduce
the areas to be machined to the essentials (such as, corners),
and then to offset these areas slightly to ensure that all
details (for example, on the corners) are machined.
2 Click Calculate to generate the toolpath.
Progress is shown on the Status bar at the bottom of the screen.
The generation may take a minute or so, depending on the
processing power of your PC.
3 When the toolpath is generated, click Cancel to close the strategy
dialog.

PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started Cavity mold example • 45


Displaying the rest roughing toolpath
Use the Plain Shade , Wireframe , and Block buttons to
undraw the model and the block, and then zoom in to view the
toolpath:

Click to expand the Toolpaths node in the explorer. The new


toolpath is shown in bold and preceded by the > symbol to indicate
it's active.

The Safety Status icon at the top of the toolpath tree shows
the toolpath is gouge-checked, but not checked for holder
details. To see more information, expand the Toolpath Safety
Parameters node in the toolpath tree.

To save project changes, click on the Main toolbar.

Simulating the rest roughing toolpath


To view a simulation of the rest roughing toolpath:
1 On the Simulation toolbar, select the current toolpath in the first
of the two drop-down lists. The tool is selected automatically and
the Play buttons are highlighted:

46 • Cavity mold example PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started


2 To start the simulation, click the Play button. Allow the
simulation to run through to the end.

If you have not started a different session since creating


the roughing toolpath, the rest roughing toolpath is shown
in a different colour, overlaid on the roughing simulation
(see page 40).

3 Click the Exit ViewMill button, and select Yes to stop the
simulation. The Toggle ViewMill button changes from green to
red , and the standard PowerMILL window is displayed.

Closing the roughing session


Now you have generated the roughing toolpath. Save the project
and close PowerMILL until you are ready to create the finishing
strategies.

To save project changes, click on the Main toolbar.


To exit PowerMILL, either select File > Exit from the menu, or click
the Close button in the top right hand corner of the PowerMILL
window.

PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started Cavity mold example • 47


Re-opening the project
1 Restart PowerMILL; this automatically loads your toolbar and
colour selections from the previous session.
2 Select File > Recent Projects from the menu, and then select the
project containing the forging die example:

3 When the project is reloaded, adjust the model size and


orientation as required.

48 • Cavity mold example PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started


Checking which entities are active
Before you create the finishing toolpaths, you can ensure they are
automatically added to an NC program:
1 Check if the NC program in the explorer is shown in bold and
preceded by the > symbol to indicate it's active. If it's not active,
right-click the NC program name, and select the Activate option.
2 Expand the Toolpaths node, and undraw each of the roughing
toolpaths by clicking the light bulb icon until it shows . Now you
can easily see the new finishing toolpaths as you create them.

PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started Cavity mold example • 49


Creating a finishing toolpath
1 Click on the Main toolbar to bring up the Strategy Selector
dialog.
2 On the Finishing tab, select the Steep and Shallow Finishing
strategy and click OK.

3 In the Steep and Shallow Finishing dialog, enter SteepAndShallow


in the Toolpath Name field.

50 • Cavity mold example PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started


4 Change the Stepover value to 0.5.

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Defining the finishing tool geometry
The tool currently selected for the Steep and Shallow Finishing
strategy dialog is the same tool that was used for the rest roughing
toolpath. This tool is not appropriate for the current toolpath
strategy, and must be changed. This example uses an 8 mm (5/16
inch) ball nosed tool.

1 On the Tool page, select a Ball Nosed Tool from the tool list.
2 In the Ball Nosed Tool dialog, enter:
a Name - 8 Ball_LS_TH
b Length - 20 mm
c Diameter - 8 mm
d Tool Number - 3

3 Select the Shank tab, click to add a shank component. Enter:


a Upper Diameter - 12
b Lower Diameter - 8

52 • Cavity mold example PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started


c Length - 25

4 Click the button to add a second shank component. Enter:


a Upper Diameter - 12
b Lower Diameter - 12

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c Length - 30

5 Select the Holder tab, and click the button to add a holder
component. Enter:
a Name - 8 mm Ball Holder
b Upper Diameter - 20
c Lower Diameter - 20
d Length - 20

54 • Cavity mold example PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started


e Overhang - 55

6 Click the button to add the upper part of the holder. Enter:
a Upper Diameter - 60
b Lower Diameter - 60
c Length - 10

PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started Cavity mold example • 55


d Overhang - 55

7 Click Close to update the Tool page with the new tool.

The new tool is shown in the explorer, and on the Tool


toolbar, and it's also drawn in the graphics window, where
it is automatically aligned with the Z axis.

The toolpath is not yet complete as it needs to reference a


boundary, but you can close the dialog without generating the
toolpath.
8 Click OK to close the tool path dialog.

56 • Cavity mold example PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started


Creating the boundary for the selected surface
As it is only the cavity that needs to be finished by this toolpath,
you can create a boundary for the cavity.
1 Undraw the 8 Ball_LS_TH tool by toggling the light bulb icon to
in the explorer.

2 Click the Block button to undraw the block, and use the
Wireframe button to undraw the wireframe.
3 Use the mouse to select only the cavity surfaces.

You can use the Drag Selection Mode on the View


toolbar to select multiple surfaces.

PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started Cavity mold example • 57


4 In the Boundaries context menu, select Create Boundary >
Selected Surface.

5 In the Selected Surface Boundary dialog:


a In the Name field, enter Cavity.
b In the Tool list, select 8 Ball_LS_TH.

6 Click Apply.

58 • Cavity mold example PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started


7 The boundary is calculated. It is shown in white by default:

Selected Surface Boundaries are recalculated if the selected


surfaces change. This means they behave like toolpaths in
the way they take account of the selection state at the time
of calculation.
8 Click Accept to close the boundary dialog.

Completing and generating the finishing toolpath


You now need to add the created boundary to the Steep and Shallow
Finishing toolpath together with the appropriate leads and links.
1 In explorer, expand Toolpaths and select the SteepAndShallow
toolpath.
2 Right-click and select Settings from the context menu.

3 On the Steep and Shallow Finishing strategy dialog:


a Select the Limit page and:
From the Boundary list, select Cavity.

PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started Cavity mold example • 59


From the Trimming list, select Keep inside.

b Expand the Leads and Links page, select the Lead in page
and:

60 • Cavity mold example PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started


In the 1st Choice list, select None.

c Select the Links sub page to define link moves between the
cutting moves in the toolpath and:

PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started Cavity mold example • 61


In the Short list, select On surface to define the type of link
moves used to connect adjacent passes.

4 Click Calculate to generate the toolpath.


Progress is shown on the Status bar at the bottom of the screen.
The generation may take a minute or so, depending on the
processing power of your PC.
5 When the toolpath is generated, click Cancel to close the strategy
dialog.

62 • Cavity mold example PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started


Displaying the finishing toolpath
When the toolpath is generated, it's displayed on the screen:

Click to expand the Toolpaths node in the explorer. The new


toolpath is shown in bold and preceded by the > symbol to indicate
it's active.

To save project changes, click on the Main toolbar.

Simulating the NC program with generated toolpaths


The new toolpath is automatically added to the active NC program.
If for some reason, your toolpath is not there, use the mouse to
drag the toolpath under the NC program manually.

PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started Cavity mold example • 63


To simulate the NC program:

1 Click the ISO1 button on the View toolbar to reset the view.

2 On the ViewMill toolbar, click the Toggle ViewMill Window


button. It turns green , and activates the simulation window,
which initially shows a light grey block on the current
background.

3 From the ViewMill Toolbar , select the Rainbow


Shaded Image option so you can visualise the differences
between toolpaths.
4 In the explorer, right-click the NC program Cavity_Mold, and
select Simulate from Start from the context menu.

The NC program is automatically selected on the Simulation


Toolbar, and the Play buttons enabled.

64 • Cavity mold example PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started


5 Click the Play button, and allow the simulation to run through
to the end.

6 Zoom into the unmachined areas. You can see that some of the
corners need cleaning up, particularly between non-tangential
surfaces.

7 Click the Exit ViewMill button, and select Yes to stop the
simulation. The Toggle ViewMill button changes from green to
red , and the standard PowerMILL window is displayed.

PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started Cavity mold example • 65


Creating the Corner Finishing toolpath
The Corner Finishing toolpath uses a smaller tool to machine the
remaining corners, particularly between non-tangential surfaces.

To create the Corner Finishing toolpath:

1 Click on the Main toolbar to bring up the Strategy Selector


dialog.
2 Select the Corner Finishing strategy on the Finishing tab, and
click OK.

3 In the Corner Finishing dialog:


a In the Toolpath name field, enter CornerFinishing_Auto.

66 • Cavity mold example PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started


b Select the Limit page and choose None from the boundary list.

Defining the Corner Finishing tool geometry


You can base the Corner Finishing tool on the tool used for the
SteepAndShallow strategy, although it needs a smaller diameter.
This example uses a 6 mm (1/8 inch) ball nosed tool.
1 Select the Tool page in the Corner Finishing dialog.

2 From the tool list, select 8 Ball_LS_TH, and click the Edit
button.
3 In the Ball Nosed Tool dialog which appears, on the Tip tab, click
to create a new tool entity based on the existing tool.
It is given the default name of 8 Ball_LS_TH_1.
a Rename the tool to 6 Ball.

PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started Cavity mold example • 67


b Enter a Length of 15 mm.
c Enter a Diameter of 6 mm.
d Enter the Tool Number as 4.

68 • Cavity mold example PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started


4 To adjust the shank to match the tip, select the Shank tab, click
the bottom shank component (it turns pale green), and enter 6 in
the Lower Diameter field.

5 You can leave the Holder as it is. Click Close to update the
toolpath dialog with the new tool.
The new tool is shown in the explorer, and on the Tool toolbar,
and it's also drawn in the graphics window, where it is
automatically aligned with the Z axis.

Completing and generating the Corner Finishing


toolpath
In the Corner Finishing strategy dialog:
1 Select the Corner finishing page and:
a From the Output list, select Both. This creates two separate
toolpaths for steep and shallow regions.
b Enter a Threshold Angle of 65. This specifies the angle,
measured from the horizontal, that determines the split
between steep and shallow portions of the surface slope.

PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started Cavity mold example • 69


c Enter a Cusp of 0.01. This defines the maximum allowable
cusp height. The stepover between tool passes is
automatically calculated from this value and the geometry of
the tool and part.
d From the Cut direction list, select Any. This uses both the
Climb and Conventional methods of milling.
2 Select the Corner detection page and:
a Select 8 Ball_LS_TH from the toolpath reference list. The
Corner Finishing toolpath makes a comparison between the
current and previous tools, and automatically machines the
corners that the previous tool was unable to access.
b Enter a Overlap of 0.5. This indicates how far the toolpath is
extended beyond the borders of the un-machined region. It is
also used as the overlap value between the steep and shallow
portions of the toolpath.
c Enter a Detection limit of 165. This specifies the angle at which
PowerMILL finds corners. Only corners less than the specified
angle are machined.
3 Click Calculate to generate the toolpath.
Progress is shown on the Status bar at the bottom of the screen.
The generation may take a minute or so, depending on the
processing power of your PC.
4 When the toolpath is generated, click Cancel to close the strategy
dialog.

70 • Cavity mold example PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started


Displaying the Corner Finishing toolpath
When the toolpath is generated, it is displayed on the screen:

Click to expand the Toolpaths node in the explorer. The new


toolpath is shown in bold and preceded by the > symbol to indicate
it's active.
If the NC program Cavity_Mold remains active, the toolpath is
automatically added to it:

To save project changes, click on the Main toolbar.

PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started Cavity mold example • 71


Simulating the Corner finishing toolpath
1 Click the ISO1 button on the View toolbar to reset the view.

2 On the ViewMill toolbar, click the Toggle ViewMill Window


button. It turns green , and activates the simulation window,
which initially shows a light grey block on the current
background.

3 From the ViewMill Toolbar , select the Rainbow


Shaded Image option so you can visualise the differences
between toolpaths.
4 In the explorer, right-click the NC program Cavity_Mold, and
select Simulate from Start from the context menu.

The NC program is automatically selected on the Simulation


Toolbar, and the Play buttons enabled.

72 • Cavity mold example PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started


5 Click the Play button, and allow the simulation to run through
to the end.

6 Zoom into the machined areas to view the cleaning up of the


non-tangential surfaces.

This compares with the previous finishing toolpath which left


some material in the corners.

PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started Cavity mold example • 73


7 Click the Exit ViewMill button, and select Yes to stop the
simulation. The Toggle ViewMill button changes from green to
red , and the standard PowerMILL window is displayed.

Writing NC programs
When the toolpaths are generated, you can add them to an NC
program to be postprocessed as an output file for a specific NC
machine controller. Any number of toolpaths can be included, and
reordered as required depending on the limitations of the particular
NC machine and the postprocessor.
By default, all toolpaths in an NC program are saved to a single NC
program file. The following examples show you how to:
 Write each toolpath as a separate NC program file (see page 74).
 Write two NC program files (see page 76) with the toolpaths
grouped by their functionality.

Writing each toolpath as a separate NC program file


This procedure shows how to generate separate NC program files
for each toolpath in an NC program.

To have separate NC program files for each of your toolpaths,


the Write File for Each Toolpath option must be selected on the
Output tab available from Tools > Options > NC Programs.

74 • Cavity mold example PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started


1 In explorer, right-click the NC program, Cavity_Mold, and select
Write from the context menu.

The symbol against a toolpath indicates a tool change. It


is always displayed for the first tool in the sequence. It's
also displayed when a different tool is used.
2 PowerMILL postprocesses the toolpaths using the specified
parameters, and displays a confirmation window showing where
the files are saved.

3 Click to close the Information window.


4 The colour of the NC program Cavity_Mold in the explorer
changes to a bright green colour, , to show it has
been calculated correctly.

5 To save project changes, click on the Main toolbar.

PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started Cavity mold example • 75


Writing two NC program files
This procedure shows how to generate two NC program files, one
with two roughing toolpaths, and another with the two finishing
toolpaths.
1 From the NC Programs context menu, select Create NC Program.

This displays the NC Program dialog.


2 In the Name field, enter cavity_roughing.

3 In the NC Program dialog, click the Options button. The


Options dialog is displayed.
4 On the Output tab:
a Deselect the Write File for Each Toolpath option. This causes
Output File to be displayed instead of Root Name at the top of
the NC Program dialog.
b Select Option File as heid.
c Enter Output File Extension as opt.

76 • Cavity mold example PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started


d Click Accept to update and close the Options dialog.

5 Click the Accept button at the bottom of the NC Program dialog to


create a new roughing NC program.
6 Right-click the individual NC program cavity_roughing, and select
Edit > Copy NC Program.
7 A new entity is added to the NC Programs list with the default
name of cavity_roughing_1. Right-click it and Rename it as
cavity_finishing.

To identify which NC program is currently active, expand


the NC Programs node in the explorer; the active program
is shown in bold and preceded by the > symbol.

PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started Cavity mold example • 77


8 In the explorer, move the two roughing toolpaths under
cavity_roughing, and the two finishing toolpaths under
cavity_finishing.

9 Select the cavity_roughing and cavity_finishing NC programs.


Right-click, and select Write Selected.

10 PowerMILL postprocesses the NC programs using the specified


parameters, and displays a confirmation window showing where
the programs are saved.

78 • Cavity mold example PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started


Two NC programs are written, cavity_roughing.tap
containing both roughing toolpaths, and cavity_finishing.tap
containing both finishing toolpaths.

11 Click to close the Information window.

12 To save project changes, click on the Main toolbar.

PowerMILL 2011 Getting Started Cavity mold example • 79